Sunday, September 26, 2010 – 4:00 p.m.

Monday evenings meeting of the Yucaipa City Council should be interesting.

Mayor Dick Riddell, who dispatched a letter to county officials lodging the city’s objection to a conditional use permit application by Lazar Broadcasting for a 46-foot broadcast tower on Lazar-owned property, has the racially-divisive matter coming before the city council to ask for their concurrence.

Sources say Riddell, who has been an ardent foe to Lazar, is aggressively opposing the tower, doesn’t want a Spanish-language broadcaster in the community.

At the last council meeting, Riddell was caught misleading his peers, when he said their were thousands of letter in opposition to the tower that actually didn’t exist. Riddell’s miscue came after he admitted to directing the city manager to forward a letter of opposition to the tower to county planning staff without council approval.

Riddell’s shrewd political strategy is to pit Third District Supervisor Neil Derry and the county against Lazer in hope of stalling the project. A strategy that was successful 18 months ago.

In 2009, Lazar’s application for an 88-foot tower was denied, when county supervisors unanimously overturned the county planning commission approval of a similar permit.

Lazer is threatening a multi-million dollar damages suit against the county should their permit ultimately be denied a second time by county supervisors.

This time, Lazer has obtained some 2,000 letters of support for the tower, with more than 600 letters from city residents.

County planners have received 4 letters in opposition.

The burning question here is will the Board of Supervisors place the county in a position of having to defend a lawsuit and risk a potential damage award of more than $5 million to Lazer for such a misguided position.

It’s a nice stance for Riddell to take, given that the county, not Yucaipa, bears all the risk.

One has to wonder if it were KFRG-FM who wanted to place a tower in the same location would Riddell still object?